Little Miss Paisley!
Little Miss Paisley!
I invited Lizelle Smith of Little Miss Paisley to join the Professional Spring group and interview for the Talk Tuesday feature because her Facebook business posts always delight and inspire me. I really do feel like Lizelle is living the dream because she seems to be so in her element with what she is doing. Little Miss Paisley makes bespoke baby nests and other soft furnishings. These are fab little, well, nests! Designed for baby to cozy up in when they are tiny so they don’t roll off the sofa or off the bed or simply to keep them cwutched up and snug when they are in their cots. I love the original designs and fabrics Lizelle uses, her passion for great design oozes out of her.
So Lizelle, is there a story behind why your company is called Little Miss Paisley?
My little girl is named Chloe Paisley Smith, so I took her middle name! She is the reason for me starting this business after all!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be running your current business.
I have always been creative and enjoyed drawing, and all things crafty growing up. My mother was very good at sewing and always had a needle and thread in hand. So I guess sewing was infused in my DNA! After school, I studied Fashion Design and then did a professional makeup and hair styling course.
I am actually South African and moved to the UK 4 years ago with my husband for his work. I started working full time as a makeup artist and after my maternity leave, couldn't return to work, so I had to think of a plan for generating an income.
I received a handmade baby nest from my Norwegian friend for my baby shower, and she told me all about how the Scandinavians have been using it for decades, and that her sister makes and sells them in Norway. After using it and seeing how amazing it was, I was determined to spread the word! With my sewing abilities and customer service experience, I knew it was something I could make and possibly start a little business out of. With all the amazing support I have received from my husband, family, and friends, here I am doing my own thing while raising my little girl from home.
What have been your growing pains if any?
I guess it was trying to start Little Miss Paisley and finding a balance between getting the work done whilst taking care of my baby at the same time. The start-up was very time consuming, and there was a lot of red-tape with health and safety laws around babies and children as I am sure you can imagine. I am also very hard on myself, and wanted my FB page and website to look perfect, and got very impatient with it all, but I now realise that kind of stuff takes time, and you just have to keep going.
What major lessons have you learned through setting up your business?
If you are going to wait for everything to look perfect, you will lose out on precious time. I had to set up my FB page, even though I wasn't sure about the name or the logo yet. I also had to set-up my Etsy shop, even though my photographs and write-ups weren't perfect yet.
I have also learned that customer service is very important, even if you don't see your customer face-to-face. Communication and going the extra mile for your customer will have a big impact on your business. Note from Polly: I can 100% vouch for Lizelles great customer service, she went the extra mile for me to get a baby nest out during the busy Christmas period. She managed my expectations by warning me how busy she has then exceeded them by delivering before she thought she would be able to. Communication was great all the way through.
What challenges are you facing at the moment?
I guess working from home is always a challenge, and with having to raise a toddler, while pregnant and a husband who works away from home often, it has been challenging to allocate enough time for what needs to get done. But in the end, somehow it all gets done! By working late nights, or getting as much possible done while she naps.
The other challenge would be capital. I started this business with nothing and had to work very clever to keep the ball rolling while drawing a small income from it.
How do you allocate your time?
Working from home has its pros and cons. I am a neat freak, and like my home to be clean and tidy (but I have had to relax about that more since there is now a little toddler-tornado living here!)
I have had to learn to be flexible and have a work/life balance. Because I have my sewing room all set-up, I can come and go as I please, and that can be at any time of the day. So I try and get most of my work done when the little one goes to sleep and has her naps. I also leave her with a childminder when I have a lot of orders to complete, which then gives me a few hours in which I can make a lot of progress. I have to tell myself some days that the dishes can wait, and just go upstairs into my sewing room and get work done. Some nights I work until late, and other nights I fall asleep at 8 pm! It's all in the balance!
What do you do to keep you motivated?
The internet is an amazing thing! I love Pinterest for inspiration and building ideas from illustrations, art, home decor, etc. Staying active on social media keeps me in the loop of current trends and what people like and want. I am also motivated by the responses I get from my posts.
In addition, I keep a visual diary where I jot down any ideas, keep pictures and fabric samples, and just keep all my ideas in one place. I like to page through my visual diary one morning a week while having my coffee and just refresh my memory and get inspired again.
What marketing strategies work best for you, have you notice any that didn’t work for you?
Social Media works the best I would say. Also, word-of-mouth is amazing. I make sure that I am constantly active on my Instagram and Facebook Page. I also run giveaways often to get people involved, and that has worked a treat. My Etsy Shop also gives me a worldwide platform - as I have sent products to all corners of the earth.
I found that an advert on yell.com was a bit useless, whereas it works amazing for my makeup freelance.
What plans do you have for the future of your business?
I am hoping to have my own shop one day, and hopefully be able to employ a few helping hands. I would love to be able to give back to the community, by offering employment and training to people who struggle with disabilities and give them the self-empowerment of being able to work and create things with their hands.
What is the one top tip you would give to anyone who is thinking of starting their own business?
Just go for it! Don't wait for your logo, website, images, etc to be perfect. Because you will wait forever! Get going with what you have, and try and do as much as you can yourself, and empower yourself with business knowledge by watching seminars online and reading up on other entrepreneurs and their journeys.
Tell us the motto which you live by if any.
I guess it would be to never give up or give in to self-doubt. Because doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will. Learn from your mistakes and grow stronger every day.
Lizelle I have loved reading your responses. It’s interesting to see how Yell was a great advertising avenue for your first business but not helpful at all for your second. I also love your tips on not waiting for things to be perfect and that you should just get stuck in. Educating yourself is always an important one and at the heart of the Professional Spring ethos of sharing and inspiring each other. Your second to last statement ‘Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will’gave me goose bumps because it is so so true.
Thank you so much for being this months Talk Tuesday!
Check out Little Miss Paisley via Facebook